Mike Wilson farms at Clochcan Farm, near Auchnagatt, in Ellon, and in 2020 he introduced a new Fendt tractor to his fleet.

The Fendt 942 Profi Plus replaced a John Deere 7310 and joined three Fendt 700 series tractors, a John Deere 7820 and two New Hollands, a 68 plate T7225 and an older TM155.

“We saw the 942 at the Royal Northern Spring Show, in February, and had it on demo just before lock down. We work with Ross Agri Services and were pleased with their willingness to let us have it for a lengthy demo. We were very impressed and chose to bring it in to the fleet straight away,” explained Mr Wilson.

The 2000-acre farm is split with 500 acres tenanted, 500 for a shared farming partnership and 1000 owned. “It’s been in the family for six generations and we have been steadily increasing the acreage for 30 years,” added Mr Wilson.

There are 1300 acres of cereals on the farm. Winter barley and oats were drilled in September using the 942, accounting for just over 500 acres. Mr Wilson also fattens around 2000 beef cattle and has 250 acres of seed potatoes within his repertoire.

In 2017, he bought a Lemken 6m drill and needed a more powerful tractor. “We chose the John Deere 7310 after looking at a number of options. We looked at a Fendt 828, but it didn’t have the weight for heavy draft work, so we chose the 7310,” he said.

The John Deere was at its lift capacity and though Mr Wilson had no problems with the lift, there were a couple of gearbox issues. “We did have problems with the gearbox, but these were quickly fixed. However, we felt that as we were increasing the size of our implements it was time to look again and find a more powerful tractor,” he explained.

Following the purchase of a new Kverneland six-furrow plough the John Deere was really struggling to lift it and had a further gearbox issue. “When we had more gearbox issues, we decided to make a change,” he said. When on demo, he hooked the 942 up to the plough and the Lemken drill. “It lifted and pulled both effortlessly and so when Ross Agri offered us a good deal to change, we took the 942 straight away,” he said.

This Fendt 942 Profi Plus was specified with VarioGrip, an onboard air supply system that can automatically change tyre pressure. “The VarioGrip enables us to get a better grip in the field by lowering the tyre pressures. We noticed this immediately when we put our Kverneland CLC cultivator on it,” he pointed out.

“We’ve established the high power output needed to pull it in the past and struggled with previous tractors, but the 942 pulled it easily and the grip was so good we didn’t have to use dual wheels,” he explained.

The 750/70/44 Trelleborg tyres fitted to the 942 initially concerned him that they would be too wide. “Our worry was whether the tyres would be too wide for ploughing work, but they have been better than the 710/75/42s we had on the John Deere. We just get so much more traction because we can adjust the pressure.

“This reduces the slip and makes ploughing work much faster. The 942 is running at just 950 revs doing eight km/h pulling a six-furrow plough,” he added.

He also uses ScanStone bedmakers for his potato cultivation. This requires the 942 to be weighted because it is relatively light compared to other 400-plus hp tractors. “We use wheel weights on the rear and reach an overall weight of 16 tonnes,” he said. “We need the weight, but it also needs to be balanced.

“However, we find that the VarioGrip improves traction at the front when the tyres are deflated so we do not need a heavy front weight.”

The 942 has a nine-litre, 415 hp Man engine, rather than the Deutz engines that are used in the lower horsepower 900 series tractors. It has a peak torque of 1970Nm which is reached at just 1100rpm, making it more economical than other tractors with similar power outputs.

The engine is from the larger 1000 series but the weight of the 942 is far lower, so the ratio is one that Mr Wilson sees as being a big advantage. “The power is like nothing we have had before and it is almost too much on the road. The fuel consumption is similar to the John Deere 7310, but the Fendt is easily 10% faster at almost everything we have used it for,” added Mr Wilson.

Automatic four-wheel drive in the 942 is a feature that is more akin to traction control in a car and is another feature taken from the larger 1000 series. “It is like having the power and drive features of the 1000 series in a tractor not much bigger than an 800 series,” he explained.

The four-wheel drive also allows the front wheels to turn faster than the rear which reduces the turning circle by 10% and makes tight headlands easier to manage. “It is like driving a tractor with half the horsepower. It’s nimble on the headland and just as easy to manoeuvre as a tractor with half the horsepower,” he added.

Whilst the 942 is agile, Mr Wilson has experienced some challenges with the VarioGuide auto-steer. “The Green Star on the John Deere was excellent, but we have struggled to adjust to the auto steer on the Fendt.

“It seems to turn too early so we have had to compensate on 90° turns by switching it off and steering manually. I suspect we just haven’t found a way to programme it properly yet, but it is a feature that we want to get right,” he said.

Now the 942 is part of the fleet, he also chose to update his single bed tiller to a triple. “Since buying the Fendt I have chosen to make the investment because it will save us so much time in the future,” he said.

Despite only bed tilling 20% of the potato acreage, he is keen to see this area covered more efficiently. “The other benefit we have by using the 942 on the bed tiller is that we can also use it for ridging. This means we only need to commit one man and one tractor to potato cultivation work, saving us a lot of time and resource,” he said.

The 942 is very much at home on the road once the tyres are pumped up using the VarioGrip system. “It’s like driving a car and capable of 65 km/h but we obviously can’t use it at those kinds of speeds. I do use it for towing a 33m3 Stewart trailer, but I can only load 12 tonnes,” he said.

The weight of 942 prevents the increasing of the load beyond this because the overall weight of tractor and trailer should not exceed 32 tonnes.

“It’s funny because we can pull more weight with one our 700 series tractors, but the 942 is so much faster. This means we have to choose between a big tractor with small load moving quickly or small tractor with a larger load moving slowly.

“I can’t help but think the regulations should be changed because the 942 has a much better braking and towing capability than one of the smaller tractors with a large load,” he argued.